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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Persecution IN the Church

John 15:20 (ESV) 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

I love the pastors I have sat under. I am amazed at their preaching. Each one has been unique. Each one has had different spiritual gifts. It comes out in their preaching. I have not known each of them personally but I have been changed by their lives.

My attitude toward my pastors made me naïve to those in the churches who criticized their every move. I didn't hear it but I know it must have happened.

My own attitude toward my pastors made me think that everyone felt the same as I. Thus, I was surprised when people criticized me. They made up things I never did. They rebelled against the Word of God by finding scriptures which allowed them to excuse sinfulness. They created nefarious reasons for much of what I was doing.

I didn't understand. I knew I wanted to see people changed by the Word of God. I found that many of them resisted any change even if it came from God's Word. I found that they were making themselves saints as they acted like the devil.

I have watched many churches treat their pastors maliciously in my more than thirty years of full-time church ministry. I have seen godly ministers fired, castigated and treated with such contempt that they were left with deep psychological scars.

Why does this happen? Why is it so common in churches?

Jesus said it would happen. He said that those who accepted His word would accept His word when others preached it. He said that those who persecuted Him because of who He is and what He stands for would also persecute those who held Him up.

We wrongly assume that all  those who come to church, join the church and serve are believers. They are not. Many times a church accepts people as members who have no true defining evidence of faith. Churches accept them into membership simply because they can answer a couple of questions correctly: "Have you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior? Have you been baptized?" Everyone knows that the correct answer is "yes" and "yes/"

But an affirmative answer does not mean that the person is living an affirming life. Faith is so much more than magic words and holding your breath. It is living a life that proves that it exists.

Some churches have allowed a significant portion of their membership to be those "trouble makers" who thwart every action of faith. It is consistent with their character. They act without faith because they have none. They reject the scripture because it makes no sense. They oppose the leadership because it requires them to examine their lives and determine that they lack faith.

Many true believers have left church because they thought that the actions in a former church represented all churches. They wonder how Christians can act like these people acted. They don't realize that these people aren't Christians. They will reject the words of Jesus from those who say them because they have ultimately rejected Jesus and have substituted repeating a prayer of salvation and being dunked in a pool for true faith.

I serve in a wonderful church at this moment. The people give me an amazing amount of grace. I do things wrong but they understand my feet of clay. They look for God's word and I am challenged to deliver it each week. I praise God and am deeply grateful for this church.

Yet, I see those around me who are not so fortunate. I see people in their churches causing such discord that these pastors are put in hospitals from the stress. This attitude is so bad that some churches would further the cause of Christ better if they shut their doors.

There is a good side for these pastors. They should know that their faithfulness has not gone unnoticed by their Savior. They should know that they are experiencing what He has experienced. In fact, they should know that His presence in what they are doing means that He is experiencing it with them.

People just might crucify you if you truly become the image of Christ.


Anonymous said...

It is true, we need to know that it is not necessarily everyone in a local church is a believer. Even for believers, they are prima facie believers, but are they truly sons of God is another matter.  Often I said this: 

You are who you are, only when you live out who you are.

Many people, including believers, do not want to consider the above at all.  Their mind are set on standing, is all that is necessary.  Preachers kept emphasizing the standing that one comes into, upon entry into salvation, and the attending benefits that come with the standing, without talking about the living out of that standing, in order to be ultimately affirmed by God of all such standings.  Do you think my saying is without scriptural support at all; take a look at this exhortation by the Apostle Paul:

Col 2:6-7 - 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

In Scripture, there are such things as tests of who are the sons of God! If you think the moment you entered into salvation, you are son, regardless, why then do we find such tests in Scripture.

Off hand, I can give 2 such tests of sonship or being a child of God:

1 John 3:10 -This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Romans 8:14 - For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

Prima facie, we may be believers or sons or children of God, but do we do what is right in God's eyes; in other words, do we live a righteous life or do we practise righteousness, even as we are righteous?  And do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? And are we listening to the Holy Spirit or be led by Him?  Who are the true  Church? Strictly speaking, it is not all the local churches put together is the Church!  The true Church, the unblemished bride comprises only the true sons or children of God.

We find persecution in a local church, because the local church is not pure.  Those still going after the ways of the world are in the local church, not to mention there are spies of the enemy and even of the authority in some local churches.  Some don't believe it, but the demons are found in the local churches, too.  You don't believe; I prayed for believers in church, and the demons in them manifested!  

From Scripture, we know that impure believers are in the church, otherwise, it would not need to warn us of letting wolves in sheepskin into the church:

Matt 7:15-23 spoke of false prophets and disciples or believers -

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Col 2:8 - warning by Apostle Paul to Timothy -

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

Be not surprised about the much imperfections in the local church.  But it does not mean that we should not effort to give the Lord the unblemished bride.  All those talk about it is all God's part, we need just to bask in grace, and not try to help God, are just feeding the fleshy desires to push all responsibility back to God. Utter complacency.

The one heading a local church, has the heavy responsibility and must act rightly. He must act to protect the innocent sheep, and stand up for his under-shepherds and ministry workers. I was once maliciously attacked in church by another who spread malicious rumors and untruths about me, when I was serving prominently in church on a voluntary basis, and my Senior Pastor (now retired) raised to the occasion, and stood up for me, and has continued to approve of my ministry in church; that act of the Senior Pastor was praiseworthy, for some women leaders were already won over by such rumors, and were questioning my place in ministry.  When there is a need to stand up and be counted, we must - this too, is part of practice of righteousness.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - Lord, because of our complacency, bit by bit, we have let in a lot of filth into the many local churches.  We have also failed to stand up and be counted in our community, and in our country, that all kinds of advancements and progresses have been achieved by the enemy.  Immorality, evil activities, and exclusion of your ways in spheres of life, have been permitted in our community and country.  Now, in many places, we have become like fishes out of water, gasping for breath.  Lord, we have failed you much, and we are to be blamed for the predicaments we are finding ourselves in. Forgive us, Lord.  Help us, Lord.  That your light may break in, and disperse darkness, in and around the church, and our community and country.  In the name of my Lord, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Anonymous said...

"They act without faith because they have none."

Now isn't that just the absolute truth of the matter!